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Blockchain Startup Civic Appoints Apple Veteran as Executive Director of Identity.com

Blockchain startup Civic has appointed Phillip Shoemaker as executive director of its Ethereum-based decentralized identity platform.

Blockchain startup Civic has appointed Apple veteran Phillip Shoemaker as executive director of Identity.com, its Ethereum (ETH) blockchain-based, decentralized identity platform. The news was announced in a press release published Dec. 13.

Identity.com is Civic’s open-source, decentralized and tokenized digital identity ecosystem that uses smart contracts to provide on-demand, blockchain-based identity validation.

Shoemaker joins the initiative after working over seven years as senior director of the Apple App Store Review team, which he reportedly built “from the ground up, taking his team from 4 to over 300 employees,” under the company leadership of founder Steve Jobs. Since leaving Apple in 2016, he has worked advising multiple blockchain projects and startups.

The company has said the appointment comes at a “key time” as it prepares to add external organizations to its ecosystem, “both as collaborators and participants.”

According to the press release, Shoemaker’s responsibilities will include managing identity.com’s objectives and team growth, “defining the parameters around the Civic relationship,” and taking charge of establishing a “governance structure” for the ecosystem that prioritizes “trust and transparency.”

Shoemaker’s other past experiences include a role as developer relations director at the open-source, neuroscientific software engineering firm Numenta, which has been working to reverse-engineer the neocortex to study how the brain works and evolve approaches to enhancing machine intelligence.

As previously reported, Shoemaker is not the only Apple veteran to embrace blockchain innovation; in October, the tech giant’s co-founder Steve Wozniak was announced as a co-founder of recently launched blockchain-focused venture capital fund EQUI Global, having made a solid endorsement of Bitcoin this summer, arguing that it is the only “pure digital gold.”

In October, Civic announced that credit report repair service Progrexion, along with its subbrands law firm Lexington Law and consumer advice portal Credit.com were set to use its blockchain identity solution, with the Civic (CVC) native token surging 22 percent in value following the news.

As of press time, CVC is trading at $0.050, down just over 6 percent on the day, according to CoinMarketCap.

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Civic to Spend $43 Million In Tokens In Aggressive User Expansion

Like all crypto projects, Civic, the pioneering blockchain-powered identity startup, needs people, lots of people, using its platform.

And, according to Civic founder Vinny Lingham, while the technology is all in place for the system to work, it’s this network of users that the company is still struggling to achieve. In an effort to spur this adoption, Civic announced Wednesday that it will be paying for all identity checks for users and business partners from now until the end of the year.

Well, at least, $43 million worth.

All told, Civic is allocating 333 million of its total 1 billion supply of CVC tokens, a third of which it sold for $33 million in an initial coin offering (ICO) in June 2017. The tokens will be transferred to Civic to pay for the cost of the identity checks, serving to bootstrap growth and stress-test the protocol.

“We basically said we’re going to reserve a third of the tokens to drive network effects,” Lingham told CoinDesk.

For Civic, every new user that’s had his or her identity verified on the platform makes it a little more attractive for the next company looking for an identity solution. In this way, Civic is creating incentives for more people to join.

Lingham has been thinking about the challenge of reaching critical mass since before his company conducted an ICO in 2017.

He told CoinDesk:

“Paypal got it right with the whole $10 free if you invite a friend and it nearly bankrupted the company. They managed to crack the chicken and egg problem doing it that way.”

Fortunately for Lingham, in the new world of crypto, it’s possible for a company to create their own money supply as long as the market sees future potential. So, Civic – being the only entity, currently, that provides the know-your-customer (KYC) verification within the system – will be paying itself in CVC tokens for the service.

Why now?

Civic has built up a lot of partners, companies and entrepreneurs that need to verify a user’s identity, the most well-known of which is Annheiser-Busch.

The two companies verified the identities of users at CoinDesk’s Consensus 2018 in New York City to distribute Budweiser beers from a vending machine to attendees of legal drinking age.

It also has a lot of partners in the crypto space, including ShapeShift, Hilo, 0x and the Chamber of Digital Commerce, according to its partners page, and it’s been able to enlist a lot of ICO projects who need to run KYC before selling tokens.

“We’re at the point now where the product is actually – we’ve tested it,” said Lingham. “A hundred companies have signed up to use Civic. It’s working.”

But it’s hoping that more will consider joining this year on the promise of saving a little money onboarding their customers.

And they’re preparing for that influx by investing in the future of the business.

For instance, the company also recently acquired the URL “identity.com,” the place that will eventually serve as the meeting place between companies that need KYC services and the ones that provide them. That part of the protocol hasn’t been rolled out yet, though.

Once Civic knows that its system is working with high volume, they will open up the platform to other verifiers.

When gone, sir?

So, how many identity verifications can $43 million pay for? The general average cost for identity verification is $2, Lingham said, but there’s a wide spread.

“We’re offering this for all our services, including the accredited investor test, which is like $60,” Lingham said.

So on its face, it could be feasible for the supply to max out before the year’s end. If in theory, the company ran out of all 333 million tokens before New Year’s Day, the promotion would stop early. Lingham argues, though, there’s really almost no chance this will happen.

“We don’t expect to use all the tokens in the next couple of months,” he said.

That’s because he argued, all those CVC transactions would register to the network as demand for the product. Then increased demand would drive up the price of the token, so each additional verification should cost slightly less in CVC terms.

While Lingham thinks the promotion will succeed in enticing more users, he expects to end the year with lots of tokens left in the reserve. If it came anywhere close to running out, though, the blockchain’s ability to handle all those transactions would present more of an issue.

“The bigger problem would be ethereum. It would make CryptoKitties look like a walk in the park,” Lingham said.

On Identity.com, “it’s literally just the verification you’re being charged for,” Lingham explained. Whereas, “the central identity vendors of the world, the credit bureaus, etc, they resell your information at a profit,” he argued.

If a new entrant comes into the space and offers consumers a different deal and it catches on, that’s something that could ripple out.

As Lingham put it:

“The number of big multibillion companies in this space right now, if we start putting margin pressure on them, we disrupt the whole industry.”

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The leader in blockchain news, CoinDesk is a media outlet that strives for the highest journalistic standards and abides by a strict set of editorial policies. CoinDesk is an independent operating subsidiary of Digital Currency Group, which invests in cryptocurrencies and blockchain startups.

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Civic Is Turning Identity.com Into a Crypto-Powered Personal Data Market

“I never thought we’d get it.”

That’s Vinny Lingham, co-founder and CEO of the blockchain identity startup Civic, talking about the company’s acquisition of “Identity.com” – a fitting web domain for a company built around the idea of putting personally identifiable data in the control of its owners.

To that point, Lingham said he had always thought Identity.com would be an ideal address from which to promote the platform he is building.

Civic raised $33 million in a token sale last year as part of an effort build a decentralized infrastructure for third parties to make attestations about individuals.

Even with those resources, the domain was valuable internet real estate. It was previously controlled by a company named Inflection, which dates back to 2006, according to Crunchbase.

At first, the domain seemed out of reach, given that it was controlled by an established business. But all that changed when Civic learned that the firm had made the decision to call it quits on that line of business.

“It was very opportunistic and we lucked out for sure,” Lingham said.

As a condition of the sale, Lingham couldn’t reveal any more about the negotiations or the amount Civic paid to acquire the address – Civic’s tokens currently have a market capitalization of $65.9 million according to CoinMarketCap – but, as he put it:

“It wasn’t pocket change.”

Consumer-led identity

At its heart, the Civic protocol is built around the idea that users control their own data: – “your information sits on your device, not on our servers,” as Lingham explains it.

Identity.com will serve as a hub for businesses that have information and those that need it. So, rather than one company selling data about its users directly to another firm, the first company that can verify data would share that attestation with the user, who would then share it with the second firm that needs the information.

The blockchain allows the company receiving the information to verify that the attestation held by the consumer is legitimate.

Many different companies might be able to, for example, verify that a specific user has a valid driver’s license, but other companies might have different levels of trust in each other.

So, Identity.com will be a place for companies to set up relationships and have a means to tell consumers whose attestations they will trust.

“The key thing here is it will run on CVC tokens,” Lingham said.

The token will be the method by which requesting companies pay for validation from companies that have the information. Smart contracts are used to protect everyone during the transaction, ensuring that validators only get paid once requesting companies have received adequate information.

Many vendors, one market

Identity.com is expected to start directing traffic to a Civic-controlled website as of 22:00 UTC.

According to Lingham, the domain will play host to a business-to-business marketplace for companies looking to sell attestations about individuals and the companies seeking to verify information about their customers.

Citing the acquisition of a domain that will give their venture a higher profile, Civic has also decided to delay the launch of this marketplace to the fourth quarter of this year instead of the third quarter, as CoinDesk previously reported.

Civic will also make the software behind the marketplace open-source by the end of this year, in keeping with the industry-wide ethos of decentralization.

“We don’t want to be the ones behind it,” Lingham explained. “Initially we start off being a bit more stewards, but, over the long term — hopefully, we don’t need to be.”

Civic will be one of the companies in the Identity.com marketplace – but it hopes to be one of many.

“Civic will be like Stripe for identity,” Lingham said, meaning it will be easy for sites that want to use its network to verify people to integrate it with an easy API call.

But the new site is bigger than Civic’s part of it. Lingham positioned the domain acquisition as a major step for not just his company but the development of a “Web 3.0”

He told CoinDesk:

“It’s a big move for the industry, getting that domain secured and establish that as a rallying point.”

Business miniature photo via Shutterstock.

The leader in blockchain news, CoinDesk is a media outlet that strives for the highest journalistic standards and abides by a strict set of editorial policies. CoinDesk is an independent operating subsidiary of Digital Currency Group, which invests in cryptocurrencies and blockchain startups.

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Social Network Adopts Civic's Blockchain ID System

Blockchain identity startup Civic has launched a decentralized verification system – and a social media platform for the crypto community is already moving to adopt it.

Dubbed “ID Codes,” the mechanism has been integrated with the website of Hilo, a social network platform for both experienced cryptocurrency traders and “newbies” that, when launched, will provide information on crypto tokens and prices.

According to Civic, ID Codes provide users and institutions with an independent way to authenticate their identity for social media profiles, company profiles and more. After users undergo verification by submitting a selfie and scans of their driver’s license and passport, the company provides them with a unique link and verified profile that is then encoded on Civic’s network.

CEO Vinny Lingham told CoinDesk in an interview that Civic is attempting to resolve what he considers to be the problematic notion that anonymity is a good thing.

“It’s not always needed and not always necessary. And in fact, it’s actually dangerous for people because they lose money,” he said – through giveaway scams, for example.

First conceptualized over a year ago, the development of the verification technology was prompted by the proliferation of fraud and scams in the cryptocurrency industry, particularly with initial coin offerings (ICOs) or token sales.

One common scheme Civic hopes to prevent, in particular, is the false listing of top industry executives as advisors on scam ICO websites – something of which Lingham himself has been a victim.

Community boost

It’s this use case, in part, that motivated Hilo to adopt the technology.

“Why we’re excited about Civic ID Codes to start off with is it allows us to authenticate our team members, our investors and our advisors on our website,” Hilo founder and CEO Monica Puchner told CoinDesk.

She went on to say:

“As we release to a global community, that’s kind of the first level point of contact that people will have with our website. So, being able to authenticate our investors and advisors is very paramount and important for us.”

Although still in beta, Hilo will also use Civic’s technology to validate its users’ identities. While they will not be required to use the service, users who do not undergo the verification process will be unable to comment on the site and reap any rewards. Puchner estimates that this will mitigate the issues with bots and trolls faced by social platforms like Twitter.

“We think that having that level of transparency and authenticating users at login is very important to kind of get away from the trolling experience and the bad behavior that is surrounding other sites,” she said.

Looking ahead

Lingham said Civic plans to fully roll out ID Codes in the third quarter of this year. The technology will be free for users, but businesses will have to pay to use the service.

In the short term, however, the company is giving businesses more than 100,000 tokens raised through its $30 million ICO held in 2017.

“That subsidizes the cost of operating the network because these tokens effectively pay for whatever they would normally pay out of pocket for,” Lingham said.

He thinks moving quickly is critical to being successful in the industry, and he has wasted no time finding other partners. Lingham said 60 to 70 businesses have committed to using ID Codes, and he also expects the companies he advises to adopt the technology.

“If you see me listed as an advisor somewhere and you don’t see the ID Code in probably the next month or two, you should probably double-check that, because I’m going to make sure all my companies start using it,” he said.

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The leader in blockchain news, CoinDesk is a media outlet that strives for the highest journalistic standards and abides by a strict set of editorial policies. CoinDesk is an independent operating subsidiary of Digital Currency Group, which invests in cryptocurrencies and blockchain startups.

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The 'World's First' Crypto Beer Vending Machine Has Arrived

“We’re definitely not in the beer-vending business.”

That might not be something you’d expect the marketing manager for a crypto tech company to clarify, but it’s perhaps now necessary when discussing Civic, the startup founded by entrepreneur and “Shark Tank South Africa” star Vinny Lingham in 2016.

Announced Friday, the Palo Alto-based startup will unveil the world’s first “crypto beer vending machine” at CoinDesk’s Consensus 2018 next week. No gimmick, Civic sees the prototype, built and branded in partnership with beverage giant Anheuser-Busch, as a way to demonstrate the utility of blockchain-based identity verification schemes.

In short, any conference attendee will be able to walk up to the machine with their Civic app, where they can verify whether they are of legal age and make a purchase.

Civic’s Titus Capilnean told CoinDesk:

“We’ve been thinking about practical ways of bringing crypto technology to a more mainstream audience, and how can we go so so niche that it’s so easy to understand for a regular individual. Proof of age seemed like the best low-hanging fruit.”

In this way, Capilnean argues the model also circumvents issues with using traditional ID verification techniques in such settings, including being equipped for the variety of IDs consumers might use, as well as the handling of data transmitted or stored in the verification process.

Going even further, the demo illustrates how blockchain technology could one day enable the makers of all kinds of age-restricted products to move into the vending machine market.

“It’s not limited to just beer, it could be for any kind of age-restricted product. Unmanned entrance to casinos, and then for the vending machines, we can see this going into concerts, ballgames, venues, conferences,” he said.

Still at present, that future might be some ways off.

While the prototype is now said to be in transit to the New York Hilton for the event, it’s the first and only in production by the company, and there are no plans at this time for either Civic or Anheuser-Busch to move forward with any wider distribution.

Civic said the machine will aim to release up to 600 free beers daily at the conference.

Where the token fits

Still, there are additional considerations for Civic aside from marketing.

Looking ahead, the demo also provides a glimpse of how a wide range of devices could soon be connected to Civic’s identity marketplace, now scheduled for a Q3 launch.

Announced last June, Civic sold $33 million-worth of its CVC tokens to investors ahead of an initial coin offering (ICO) for its protocol that saw more of its custom cryptocurrency dispersed to users. Today, the value of the network is $113 million, according to data from CoinMarketCap.

As described by Lingham last year, the idea was to enable banks and other entities that store and safely hold the data necessary to verify users to offer up their ability to provide a kind of know-your-customer service.

So, the tokens, while not necessary for the demonstration (the beer distributed at Consensus 2018 will be free of charge) could be integrated into later iterations. Essentially, vending machines that need to verify that an ID is valid will need to purchase Civic tokens in order to enact the query and verify the blockchain data.

“In this case, the machine requesting the identity will have to pay for the verification,” Capilnean explained, concluding:

“Everyone contributes to the token economy, the service providers pays for the IDs, the validator gets the ID and the consumer gets the product.”

Vending machine image courtesy of Civic

The leader in blockchain news, CoinDesk is a media outlet that strives for the highest journalistic standards and abides by a strict set of editorial policies. CoinDesk is an independent operating subsidiary of Digital Currency Group, which invests in cryptocurrencies and blockchain startups.

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BitGo to Use Civic ID Service for Royal Mint's Digital Gold Trial

Blockchain identity startup Civic is to provide know-your-customer (KYC) services for BitGo-hosted wallets used to store Royal Mint Gold (RMG), a gold-backed cryptocurrency.

The arrangement, announced today at the Money2020 conference in Las Vegas, makes BitGo the first “full KYC partner” for Civic, according to its founder and longtime bitcoin investor, Vinny Lingham.

Civic has already been providing basic identity services, such as verifying mobile numbers and email addresses, for clients including the how-to website WikiHow, Now Lingham’s firm will be scanning and verifying documents, such as passports and utility bills, provided by investors in RMG tokens, to prove their identities and ensure compliance with anti-money-laundering laws.

Once they have completed that KYC process, however, those investors would be able to reuse their Civic identities with future partners that join the company’s network, rather than go through the same process again, Lingham said in an interview Monday. In this way, he said, the partnership could help create a network effect, since the more businesses that accept a digital identity, the more consumers will get one and vice versa.

“We chose the Civic identity solution because of their innovative underlying model which protects consumers and businesses alike,” said Mike Belshe, CEO of BitGo, a provider of multi-signature wallets, in a press release. “Civic is keeping user data safe in a way which provides higher accuracy for businesses at lower cost.”

A project of the derivatives giant CME Group and the U.K.’s Royal Mint, Royal Mint Gold seeks to streamline the trading of physical gold by using tokens on a blockchain. It will initially be available only to British residents, but will expand globally in the coming months, according to Civic.

Civic raised $33 million in a token sale earlier this year, and aims eventually to create an “identity marketplace” where businesses could be use its tokens to pay for identity verification by various providers. The startup had previously raised $2.75 million in venture funding,

Disclosure: CoinDesk is a subsidiary of Digital Currency Group, which has an ownership stake in BitGo and Civic, and has invested in Civic tokens.

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Lingham’s Civic Jumps 22% on Credit.com Group Partnership News

Vinny Lingham’s Civic is among the Blockchain startups making major announcements at Money 20/20 this week, unveiling a new three-way partnership.

Lingham’s Identity platform, which debuted its ICO token CVC in July, continues to add to the list of increasingly prominent businesses set to use its Blockchain solution.

Now, credit report repair service Progrexion, along with its subbrands law firm Lexington Law and consumer advice portal Credit.com, are also on board.

Lingham commented in a press release about the Progrexion deal:

“This partnership completes Civic’s technical goal of not storing any consumer PII (Personally Identifiable Information) on our servers, even for those consumers who need constant credit monitoring.”

CVC tokens surged 22 percent in value to $0.36 over the 24 hours following the news, having previously declined from August highs of $0.80.

Civik

On social media, steadfast investors used the release to reiterate their belief in Civic as a long-term proposition amid a sea of ICO tokens coming under increasing international scrutiny from regulators.

Progrexion means around an extra 3.5 mln users could soon being interacting with Civic, with access via Credit.com following the integration.

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Vinny Lingham On The Perfect ICO: ‘Eat Your Own Dogfood’

Civic CEO Vinny Lingham has released his personal guide to ICO management, telling prospective businesses to “eat their own dogfood.”

Following the entrepreneur’s previous blog post on digital tokens “eating the world,” Lingham released a brief guide at a time when the ICO industry is facing significant regulatory upheaval in its former biggest markets.

The “Brief Introduction to Token Sales” explains how the reality of administering an ICO or similar project is considerably more complex than the plethora of tokens on the market would suggest.

As an example of a token sale which had “gone according to plan,” Lingham based his remarks on Civic.

“In reality, it’s not that simple. This process takes months (not weeks), and we’re talking about working 24/7 around the clock to get it done once you decide to go this route,” he began.

Dogfooding

Civic had received considerable praise during its sold-out sale for the way it handled the demand for tokens and ensured what Lingham described as “very wide” distribution.

Central to the issue of longevity of a token beyond ‘shortability,’ he continued, is the solidity of the offering underpinning it. Civic had been tested by employees ahead of time, a process known in startups as “dogfooding.”

“We […] required every person in the crowdsale to download and register using the Civic app,” he wrote, telling readers to “eat your own dogfood.”

“This ensured that we did not have the same person making multiple purchases. This model worked for us and others, like ZRX and now Doc.ai will be using Civic to ensure broader distribution of tokens.”

Despite the technical advances, even Civic did not escape criticism from some circles. Chinese banking platform LakeBanker described the sale as “North Korean” last month ahead of its own upcoming ICO.